Wenger May Gamble on Van Persie, Fabregas Against Barca: Roundup

The following is a roundup of soccer stories from U.K. newspapers, with clickable links to the Web.

Wenger Gamble

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is poised for the “biggest gamble of his career” by fielding Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas against Barcelona tonight, the Sun reported.

Van Persie hurt his knee in the League Cup final defeat to Birmingham, while Fabregas has been out with a strained hamstring.

“I would like Van Persie to play but he has to be 100 percent. I will consider 99.5 percent,” Wenger said.

Barcelona hosts the Gunners in the second match of their Champions League round-of-16 contest. Arsenal leads 2-1 from the first leg.

Pep Unimpressed

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, 19, would be in the reserve team if he was a Barcelona player, the Daily Mirror reported.

“He can be great player for Arsenal and England, but we have many types of player like him in the second team,” Guardiola said.

Carragher Snubbed

Manchester United coaching staff refused Jamie Carragher entry to their dressing-room when he tried to apologize for the challenge that left Nani with a gashed leg, the Daily Telegraph reported.

United’s staff was angry at the challenge, and at referee Phil Dowd’s decision not to red-card the Liverpool defender. He received a yellow card after the incident in his team’s 3-1 win at Anfield.

Nani feels let down by United over its failure to complain publicly about the tackle, the Guardian reported.

Elmander Targeted

Juventus is interested in signing Bolton striker Johan Elmander, who can leave on a free transfer at the end of the season, the Daily Mirror reported.

Juve has sent “top spies” to watch the Swede in the last two games, the newspaper added.

Bolton manager Owen Coyle isn’t concerned about losing Elmander, his team’s top scorer, as he has other striking options, the Mirror said.

Distin Contract

Everton is ready to offer French defender Sylvain Distin a new contract at the end of the season as a reward for his consistent performances, the Daily Mail said.

He’s entering the last 12 months of his current deal but coach David Moyes wants to keep him longer.

“Sylvain has played all the games, he trains all the time and that is a big thing,” Moyes said. “He has been an excellent signing.”

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